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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Philip W. Leon, PhD (The Citadel)
Description: This worthy book discusses the state and art of medicine during the time of Christ and for the first five centuries of Christianity. Although not a Biblical exegesis, the book examines popular notions of Christ as healer.
Purpose: The first purpose of the book is to examine the kind of healing early Christians employed, whether miraculous or natural. The second purpose is to discuss the origins of Christian medical philanthropy, a concept of medical charity essential to Christianity that led to the establishment of hospitals.
Audience: This is not a book for the casual reader. It is a serious inquiry into a period of medical history, not a guide for a Sunday school teacher. Students of the classical Greco-Roman world will profit from seeing the connection of the practice of medicine in those times with early Christian times. The audience is expected to be well educated and able to absorb complex ideas. The author has published extensively on the subject of medicine and Christianity.
Features: The New Testament contains dozens of examples of healing. Only a few instances of miraculous healing occur, while others involve natural healing, whether by Christ or by his disciples. In order for early Christianity to survive, adherents to the new religion depended upon a sense of community. Drawn together by their spiritual beliefs, they also began to care for each other's physical or medical needs, and rendering medical care to the sick became a central tenet of Christian charity.
Assessment: The author's research assembles hundreds of sources to support his theses. Medical historians and historians interested in the classical age will welcome this well written book to their libraries. Medical practitioners in every field with a strong interest in medical history will profit from reading it as well. Certainly, libraries at every medical university and graduate school will want this book.